Sunday, August 03, 2008

August 1-3: Granite Dells and the Oak Creek Canyon West Fork

Yea verily ... a quarter pound of fresh rocky road fudge is a great way to top off two days of hiking and some nice dinners with my wife Fran.  

Fran and I made our way up to Prescott, AZ on Friday August 1st.  We left Phoenix 10AM and by mid-day had lunch just east of Prescott.  Just north of Prescott we found the entrance to Peavine Trail and then hiked near Watson Lake in the middle of the Granite Dells.  Its a straight shot hike up the Peavine Trail from the trail head and we saw some nice views of Watson Lake and the dells.  The trail is converted from an old rail road bed and is wonderfully groomed, flat and soft to walk on.  We did a little over a four mile round trip in two hours and stopped for scenery breaks often

The evening of the first we had a great dinner at a little restaurant in west Sedona called "Heartline Cafe" it was recommended by a friend of Fran who held her wedding up their recently.  We had a wonderful meal there with great service.  Saturday morning we had breakfast at our motel and travelled up route 89A to try to get into Slide Rock ... a real favorite of families but as we found out at the Chamber of Commerce that parking lot fills up at 10AM during the summer and stays full all day long.  Lines of cars back up onto the highway waiting for someone to leave.  We did not want to get that line so we went further to the north in Oak Creek Canyon to a park called "Call of the Canyon ... West Fork".  Prior to arriving we stopped at the Indian Gardens Deli.  I recommend this place highly.  Good food and drink and a beautiful garden in the back to sit in the shade and eat and drink.  The West Fork turned out to be a spectacular hiking grounds and led us for several miles (I was told it goes for 10+ miles) back into the national forest.  Along the way we crossed the stream many times with what seemed at times to be towering 1,000+ foot cliffs on either side of us.  This northern part of the Sedona region we were told is nicer to hike during the summer months as it goes along stream beds and has tall lush vegetation and is surrounded by high cliff walls.  During non-summer months the rest of the Sedona area trails are much more bearable.

Along the trail we talked briefly with many hikers but the cutest ones were the kids we found at a water hole where they were trying to catch tad poles.  This was one of the most simple pleasures I remember as a kid when my parents used to take us kids camping.  Watching these kids for about 20 minutes ... it seemed they could just go on for hours chasing the tad poles, catching them and then letting them go.  It was so peaceful back there, no sounds except the high altitude wind swirling from the cliffs so far over our heads and the sound of the water rushing over rocks and the sounds of the kids happy and care free.  I wish every kid had a chance to experience what they were doing at that moment.

In the evening Fran and I had dinner in "uptown" Sedona at the Cowboy Club.  After dinner we walked the streets a little before I managed to somehow end up in front of the fudge shop :-)

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 18 2008: Matt Graduates from George Washington University with MBA

After two short years Matt is graduating from George Washington University!  It seems like such a short time ago that Matt was transferring to WDC and attending GWU.  What a change of events going from a management training program at his prior employer and fully paid at GWU to Matt finding his new employer and him having to pay the bill himself.  It all makes sense now but at the time it seemed like Matt was taking a big risk ... he is making a great salary, got a partial GWU scholarship, and his new company kicked in some reimbursement funds.  He has to take a couple more classes that complete in June but then he is complete.  The WDC experience has been transformational for him.  He is in one of the most amazing cities in the world and gets first hand exposure to some of the world's leading thinkers in politics and economics.

Fran, Julie and I went Washington DC on Thursday May 15th and stayed through Monday May 19th at Matt's apartment.    He has a beautiful apartment in Arlington, VA and is just a short train ride from the capitol.

Matt's girlfriend Bri is staying with Matt and is pursuing her career in theater production after graduating from Webster University in St Louis, MO.  They were wonderful hosts for our visit and took us to several places across the greater DC area.

Friday night was Matt's graduation walk at his school of business

Saturday, April 05, 2008

MS150 Roundup Ride in Florence Arizona

A big thank you to the kind people who supported me and my fellow riders on the "Prime Time Posse" team that rode in the 150 mile bike ride to benefit Multiple Sclerosis on March 29th and 30th in Florence, AZ!  Our collective team of 60 contributors raised over $3,000!!!

Your generosity was overwhelming and much appreciated by me, my riding partners and the people on whose behalf we rode.   I'll share a little about the ride, some photos and some special conversations that I had during the weekend to provide a little insight to the special nature of this event.

In prior years we have ridden with more people but due the marriage of two of our riders on March 30th and another of our riders attending the wedding, our riding team was cut down to just three people; Jennifer & Alan MacColl and me.  We lacked in numbers but met many wonderful people on the ride from other teams as well as MS staff.   This year's format was different than the last several that left from Lake Pleasant on Saturday and arrived at Parker Dam on Sunday at the California border.  We arrived in Florence, AZ on Friday evening March 28th and stayed in a camper at a very nice little park on the North side of town.  Saturday we started riding at about 7AM and had options of riding 50, 75 or 100+ miles.  Sunday a similar format with options of 25 and 50 miles.  I ended up riding all 150+ miles and except for chapped lips and a tender bum it was a long ride ... but if you like long bike rides at a fast clip with beautiful desert scenery and not many cars it was a great ride.  

On Saturday after I was done riding I received a nice treat (after I showered :-); a massage, a couple glasses of wine and some wonderful conversation with MS volunteers.  I was explaining to them how I have come to know several families afflicted by MS and their stories are very moving and inspirational and that was why I was doing this ... because of them.  It did not occur to me as I was talking to the four volunteers that they were all afflicted with MS or their children were afflicted with MS ... only when I paused did they offer some insight to their own situations ... can't pick up their children because they may drop them, all dishes in the house are now plastic, periodic blindness, no clothes with buttons ... only snaps and zippers, can't feel heat or cold on extremities, and "when I fall down ... I can't get up".  Their comments were in the same conversational tone as if I were describing an irritating little bug bite.  They were so young and all had families.

Saturday evening is the big social get together for all riders.  A big dinner provided by Fazolies is set up and live music entertainment is provided ... not that it is a late night ... we start dinner about 5PM, there are remarks by the MS leadership, a big thank you to the riders and the donors and by 8 or 9PM most people are looking for the pillow to fall asleep!  Sunday is a "short" day of 3-4 hours riding and then a barbeque lunch, saying goodbye to friends and heading home.  It really is a great time to completely get away from everything and to just focus on the event at hand and to be with friends.

So again, thank you!  It was a great time and I would like to encourage all of you if you are interested in a riding next year in Florence, know someone who is interested, or just want to join us on the overnight trip and maybe do a little volunteer support work let me know.  We should be back to full team strength next year but would like to have more riders join us.  We will start putting next years team together in about six months where we can do some team preparation and set up some training rides with a couple cowboy cookouts to go along with our "Prime Time Posse" moniker :-)


Dave Ryan